Gone shopping

When I got my first ever salary, I bought gifts for my family, started investing in my retirement plan and saved the rest in the bank for a rainy day.

Or so I would have liked things to be.

As it turned out, I was one of those monstrous people who you see in the movies – the sight of money turns them into Mammon worshippers who spout dialogues like ‘I have money, I have a bungalow, I have a car etc etc etc. What do you have?’

The other party replies sanctimoniously ‘I have a mother’. This was a good thing, considering mothers back then were like Nirupa Roy who would have such a blind spot for their ill-behaved children that they spent long hours greiving in private rather than giving the offspring a tight slap and asking them to shape up.

My mom turned out to be not so much Nirupa Roy when I confessed that I had blown up most of my salary on shopping. She was more the tight slap variety. Metaphorically speaking.

Anyway, we digress. As the equation stood

Credit into salary account in month end = Shopping till earlier of (next month, money ran out)

My shopping expeditions included things I had always longed to buy, usually books and CDs. However, what I did not see coming was clothes and make-up forming a large part of the spending black hole.

After several years as a student on a budget, my formal wardrobe comprised the two sarees I had worn for my interviews (and never to be worn again till I turned fifty or such appropriate age for saree wearing) and four salwar kameezes stitched for summer training. Naturally, I had to buy clothes since it turned out I had to appear presentable in office every single day of the week

Not to mention, the only personal grooming that one did in school involved a trip to the parlour every time people on campus started mistaking me for a passing orangutan. The intricacies of painting one’s face were still unfathomable.

So it began.

I could have gone through the whole boring ‘try your clothes before you buy them’ routine. Or I could have eagerly run past the aisles grabbing clothes with one hand and waving a credit card with another. I chose the latter. I think what I was largely thinking was that I could buy any outfit since
- I would lose enough inches around the waist
- I would go to the gym, start doing weights and have toned arms
- I could sit at a certain angle and let only the nice part of the dress show

Clearly not the criteria one should use to build a dashing wardrobe.

Before I figured out that human weight usually follows a one-way street, my upper arms will never look slim and there are no angles to make bad clothes look good, I had spent enough money to fund a small house to keep all those clothes.

Eventually, I was wiser, but poorer.

Of course, with clothes one could easily argue that buying is not necessary to learning these crucial facts of life. Mere trials would do.

With make-up however, there is no other way but to drop the big bucks. You need to kiss a thousand lipsticks before you find the one that makes you princess charming.

So I tried.

The band of ‘dusky-skinned’ heroines was on the rise and all I had to do was to take cues from them on what shade might suit me. This was till I caught Bipasha Basu sporting a burnt-orange lipstick that would have definitely made me look like one of those glow-in-the-dark toys of yesteryears.

With that guiding factor lost, I plunged into buying shades of lipsticks titled cigarette smoker, where is the lipstick?, there is something on your mouth, South Indian slut etc. Finally, from the sheer laws of probability one of the colours worked. A couple of months later the company stopped making that shade.

With the last bits of the discontinued line that still survived on my dresser I managed to match it with other brands. Till date, I continue the practice of shopping for the next tube before the previous one is completely exhausted. In a fire, I would probably grab the lipstick and run out of the house.

Similar experiments were repeated with foundation leading to snaps where I look mummified, pasty-faced or like a sad survivor of an oil spill. Eye shadows meant to bring out the smoky, smoldering look have ended up with the ‘raccoon lost in the woods’ look. The lesson learnt from this rampant experimenting is that basic make up works at most times. The rest is just too much money for too little returns.

After all these years and this much spending, am I the nattiest dresser around?

Not really. Most of the effort has always gone into ensuring that I am not bottom of the barrel, with the occasional wow look thrown in. But not a week passes by when I don’t notice a woman wearing smart clothes, with the right accessories and make up that makes her face glow. And when I do spot such people, I can feel the slight stirring at the pit of my stomach, urging me to go out, buy better clothes, better make-up, better accessories and aspire to a smarter me. But then, I just tell myself what I learnt in shopaholics anonymous.

Anyone who dresses worse than me is a slob. Anyone who dresses better than me is just too vain.


Mum's delight said...

Ha ha I remember the face glitter during my wedding recepition
but seriously how could you have done any major shopping on our icici salary of which bulk was spent in travel on the weekends to town from our flat on the countryside

Anita said...

Why do you think I was mostly broke back then? Let us major shopping meant, major part of the salary which could have been a small actual amount.

anjali said...

good one, of course you can't match me creating excel sheet on 20th of the month to match incoming bills to incoming salary and figuring out i had exactly 1513 rs left to survive the next 10 days.. :)